No, it actually starts earlier, much earlier. What happens is that when they´re 11 we start realizing we have to step aside and let them go. He tells me he doesn´t want to have his hair cut for a while: ‘it´s better this way, mom’. Then, the other day the two girls who came in here go into his room where he´s playing video games with the other boys, and say ‘wow, your room is so cool!!!’.
I can´t take him to the dentist anymore. I have to meet him there. And while I´m waiting I peek out the window and watch him coming, crossing the street and walking as if he were some sort of character in the video game of his life: fearless, bold, and free. Yes, I think we believe in that sort of freedom when we´re 11.
Some relative asks me, ‘don´t you miss the baby?’ . To tell the truth, no, I don´t. I loved him when he was a baby, but I love to watch him become this imaginative, sometimes absent-minded, but nonetheless caring and affectionate young man. His beautiful personality emerging and making me smile.
I have to confess, though, that many times I hesitate. When he said I didn´t need to pick him up at soccer practice the other day, I was silent for a few seconds. Then, his dad , realizing my silence, said ‘ok, you´ll come back by yourself then’. I thank him for that. He did what I was reluctant to do, but needed to be done. I´m not over-protective: we live in a violent country, where crack-addicted teens will beat a young boy up to steal his pair of sneakers. Sad, but true. On the other hand, my husband is right again when he says that one day our son will have to learn to take care of himself out there, and it´s about time he started.
One day he tells me he wants to be a scientist , the other day he tells me he wants to be an actor. I tell him he needs to be a good human being in whatever career he chooses to follow. Really, that´s what I expect from my kids, that they become good human beings. He looks at me and says: ‘I knew you were going to say that, mom’. Big smile on my face, I hug and kiss him. Go on, my son, my beautiful boy. Go and live.